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Preview: Africa Unchained

Emergent Africa

Inspired by George Ayittey's book 'Africa Unchained'.

Updated: 2017-04-30T23:12:40.019-04:00


The Harvard of Africa? A transcontinental university takes shape


John Elmes reporting for THE:
Fred Swaniker, founder of the African Leadership University, outlines his vision for 21st-century higher education...[more]

Yinka Shonibare and David Adjaye


Over at the BBC:
The artist Yinka Shonibare meets international architect Sir David Adjaye, to consider how architecture can shape the world for the greater public good.

Regional Industrialisation: When the Whole is Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts


In Footprint to Africa:
Between 1992 and 2013, Uganda reduced the proportion of people living in poverty by over half and has registered a strong growth performance, accompanied by a rapid reduction in poverty rates. However, the country’s economic growth has not been sufficiently inclusive and did not generate enough job opportunities for the young and rapidly growing population.

The UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) argues that Uganda, like other African countries, needs to foster a higher level of industrial development to drive its economic transformation...[more]

Do Sweatshops Lift Workers Out of Poverty?


Christopher Blattman and Stefan Dercon writing in the NYTimes:

Understanding Western Sahara's Colonial History


In Africa Speaks
An interview with a Sahrawi Journalist and Activist. By Amira Ali.

In 1975, Morocco, under King Hassan II, invaded Western Sahara; and since, the Sahrawi people — female-dominated society of Arab and Berber descent — have been in an unflagging resistance struggle, committed to self-determination without exception. Today, Western Sahara remains the African continent’s (overtly) occupied territory — a Moroccan colony.

The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (a full member of the African Union) is governed by the Polisario Front (a national liberation movement), and controls about 20% of Western Sahara while claiming sovereignty over the entire territory of Western Sahara.
More here

Serious about Africa: Look Offline.


Nzube Ezudo writes:
A post shared by zuby (@nzubeezudo) on

I put up a tweet a couple of days ago with a picture I took in an Abuja Market (Nigeria), and the response I got made me thinking if people really know where the value in the African market is. The tweet is below. Most of the money in the African market is in places like this. Better folds your sleeves & fasten your heels if you want to compete.

In Nigeria, a great deal if not all still happen offline. From food, to clothes to media. Yes media, people still go to markets to load music to their phones. We in the tech community almost forget to remember that there is an underlying factor why we feel technology is accessible and everybody should be able to use it. This underlying factor is LANGUAGE. For the most part the language of the web is English. Just imagine if in Nigeria, the web had pockets where the language was Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba and a host of other languages native to us. Adoption of smartphones and the internet might improve because finally its useful to us.
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Everyday Africa: 30 Photographers Re-Picturing a Continent


via 1843:
Everyday Africa combats the clichés that depict Africa as a place of only poverty, disease, and war. Featuring the finest images from the acclaimed social media project, the book showcases photos of ordinary life that find beauty in stories rarely seen, shifting perception from the sensationalized extremes to a more textured, familiar reality...[more]

Stitched secrets, public poetics: My obsession with kanga text/iles in East Africa


Amanda Leigh Lichenstein writing in Contrary magazine :
Nipende Kwa Nia Nipate Kutulia/Love Me So I Can Calm Down Already image via
Some people think it was my love for a certain local fisherman that brought me back to Zanzibar. True, I did fall in love. But it was my obsessive love for kangas — those vibrant textiles inscribed with poetic Swahili text messages at the bottom — that truly seduced me. The ubiquitous kanga, worn by women all over East Africa, is the ultimate text message, mobile metaphor, stitched secret, the poem wrapped around one’s body in dazzling parades of ambiguity...[more]

Related film by Anastasia Kirillova
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What's driving the growing interest in African art?


Jane Morris writes:
As exhibitions abound and a game-changing new museum gets ready to open in South Africa, the market looks set to follow...[more]

The Potential of Diaspora Bonds in Africa


Michael Famoroti writes:
“No money is better spent than what is laid out for domestic satisfaction.” – Samuel Johnson

This equivocal statement may ring true for over 30 million Africans in the diaspora. According to the World Bank, this group remitted over $40 billion to Africa in 2015, with Nigeria and Egypt particularly popular destinations. As it stands, diaspora flows are usually to family and friends, or, occasionally, for investments back home. Many consider this a missed opportunity: African countries are still developing and require substantial funds to accelerate growth. The diaspora – through diaspora bonds – can lend a helping hand, and in doing so, play their role in economic development.
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MULTIVERSE - A Documentary Film on Science in #Ghana.


A film by om Juul van der Laan:
allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" mozallowfullscreen="" src="" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="640"> MULTIVERSE Ghana from Juul van der Laan on Vimeo.

A clash of histories in #Cameroon


Kangsen Feka Wakai writing in This is Africa:
An uprising in the English-speaking parts of Cameroon has brought to light a little-known aspect of the country’s history, one that its government has spent 30 years suppressing...[more]

Faraday Okoro's "Nigerian Prince," wins a Movie Pitch


From Indie Wire:
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On the morning of April 18, 2017, five young filmmakers gathered in front of seven actors, directors, and executives to pitch their movies. Two hours later, one filmmaker received $1 million. This was the first edition of “AT&T Presents: Untold Stories,” a new partnership between the mobile provider and Tribeca Film Festival, designed to fill a gap in the marketplace by not only financing a project but also providing it with an audience.

The winner, NYU film school graduate Faraday Okoro, received a giant check at a lunch following the pitch session broadcast on Facebook Live (see the full 92-minute pitch session below). In addition to the cash prize (all projects required budgets under $1 million), Okoro’s work is guaranteed a slot at the 2018 edition of the Tribeca Film Festival (assuming he meets that deadline) and will run across several AT&T video platforms, including DIRECTV. The filmmaker will also receive mentorship from industry professionals over the next year. The other four filmmakers received $10,000 for their projects.
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A Big Bond for Africa by Nancy Birdsall and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala


A post in Project Syndicate:
“Big Bond” – a strategy for leveraging foreign aid funds in international capital markets to generate financing for massive infrastructure investment.

Who Built Africa?


Paul Sturtevant writing in the Public Medievalist:
When we left off our conversation with Professor Kusimba, we were discussing how necessary it is for people looking at Africa to study early texts about the continent. Misconceptions about early Africa are rife in our culture. Many of these misconceptions are intellectual remnants of the colonial past, a past which states that Africa is a place unknown and unknowable, full of an exotic, primitive “other”. The dirty secret is that colonialists needed Africa to have been this way in order to justify their own superiority, which in turn justified both their own role in the colonial destruction of the continent, and their ancestors’ founding of the colonial system...[more]

Advances in Pest Resistant Cow-Pea Research


From the Open Forum On Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa:
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On the Haitian Revolution « An Africanist Perspective


Ken Opalo recommends we read:
Michel-Rolph Trouillot’s Silencing the Past and C. L. R. James’ The Black Jacobins together

As I read both books I couldn’t help but wonder why my high school history had nothing on the Haitian revolution (which proves Trouillot’s point). It seems like the Haitian revolution, even if in sanitized form, would have been a good fit with the sanitized versions of the Mau Mau insurgency and the Algerian and Malaya wars that I was exposed to as a teenager.

More broadly, it seems like the teaching of decolonization in Kenya could benefit from more Haiti and Fanon, side by side with Mandela, Gandhi, and MLK. It is not a stretch to imagine that the threat of violence made the successes of the Mandelas of history more likely. To talk about the ANC without mentioning Umhonto we Sizwe is to stick one’s head in the sand.
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Saki Mafundikwa's Design School 'Hanging on by a thread'


The BBC on the precarious position of Saki Mafundikwa's school

Developing 'precision public health' for #Africa


Linda Nordling reporting for Nature:
It took a public-health disaster for the Zimbabwean government to recognize the power of precision medicine. In 2015, the country switched from a standard three-drug cocktail for HIV to a single-pill combination therapy that was cheaper and easier for people to take every day. The new drug followed a World Health Organization recommendation to incorporate the antiretroviral drug efavirenz as a first-line therapy for public-health programmes. But as tens of thousands of Zimbabweans were put onto the drug, reports soon followed about people quitting it in droves...[more]

African Cookbooks and Excess Luggage


Yemisi Aribisala writing in the Chronic:
image via
There is a sense of justice and spirit of resignation in paying for excess luggage because of cookbooks, even if my pocket hurts badly. And there are some books that I will never again leave behind. This resolve is crammed full of reasons collated with hindsight. I did not come to the Western Cape, South Africa, expecting to search in vain for books on my kind of food. Did not expect to search the shelves of bookshops in the flesh, and online, desperate to find what we eat from Mauritania to Guinea. No West African food. No plantain roti, pepper soup, banku, kenkey, no adayi-like gbegiri, no cassava leaves pesto. Food that I’ve been dying to cook, tweak, eat, imagine. The fact that one cannot buy one black African cookbook in a mainstream Western Cape bookshop with hundreds of cookbooks stunned me. In the end, I wanted to stand in the middle of Exclusive Books and yell: “Do you people know you have to fly over us to get to Nigella!”
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Potential of Biotechnology to Address Food Security in Africa


From Alliance for Science:
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Examining African Antiquity and More at I'Afrique des Routes


In New African:
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...A new exhibition at the Quay Branli Museum in Paris shows that contrary to accepted notions in the West, the history of Africa’s extensive connections with the rest of the world goes deep into antiquity, easily predating the age of writing. Stephen Williams reports.
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Diaspora Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale


Over at C&:
International Curators Forum (ICF) and University of the Arts London (UAL) present Diaspora Pavilion, an exhibition to be held in Venice from May 13th until November 26th 2017 at the Palazzo Pisani S. Marina during the 57th Venice Biennale.

The Diaspora Pavilion is conceived as a challenge to the prevalence of national pavilions within the structure of an international biennale and takes its form from the coming-together of nineteen artists whose practices in many ways expand, complicate and even destabilise diaspora as term, whilst highlighting the continued relevance that diaspora as a lived reality holds today...[more]

Participate in Open City #Lagos 2017: Resilience


From C&:
Although constantly buffeted by the global forces of migration and climate change, and local housing and transport challenges, cities continue to expand and adapt. Much of this is driven by the tenacity of their inhabitants through a mix of versatility and innovation. Open City Lagos 2017 has been put together to explore this resilience in as many forms and shapes as it takes.
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Youth unemployment is a problem all over Africa, except in Ethiopia - The leader in Agricultural Development-Led Industrialization


Lynsey Chutel reporting for Quartz Africa:
...For a long while now education has been touted as the solution, but the report found a mismatch between the skills acquired and jobs available. In Tunisia and Egypt, where young people were among the most educated, youth unemployment was as high as 60%, proving that university degrees do not create jobs.

Still, there is a bright spot: Ethiopia: As others struggle to diversify their economies, Ethiopia emerges as the exception for returning to the land. Agriculture is the largest sector of Ethiopia’s economy, accounting for 80% of the workforce and contributing to 40% of the GDP, according to the report.
More here